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Racial Attitudes Through a Partisan Lens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2020

Andrew M. Engelhardt
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Corresponding

Abstract

The conventional wisdom is that racial attitudes, by forming through early socialization processes, are causally prior to most things political, including whites' party identifications. Yet a broad literature demonstrates that partisanship can shape mass attitudes. The author argues that this influence extends even to presumptively fundamental predispositions like racial attitudes. The study applies cross-lagged models to panel data from the 1990s and 2000s to demonstrate that whites align their racial attitudes with their party loyalties. The results demonstrate that partisanship has a more pronounced influence in the latter time period, which is consistent with a view that changes in the political context can make partisanship a more likely causal force on other attitudes. Racial concerns not only provide a foundation for political conflict: my results reveal that political processes can increase or decrease racial animus.

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Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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